There's a new player in the world of electric motorcycles: Polaris has acquired the electric motorcycle business of Brammo Inc.
The two companies have worked together since 2011, when Polaris invested $28 million in Brammo.
Since then Brammo has produced and sold its Empulse and Enertia electric motorcycles.
Despite winning awards for the Empulse, it has been a rocky road for Brammo, with extended holiday closings of their factory and recent cash issues that led to something of a fire sale, with $4,000 to $7,000 knocked off the prices of new 2013 or 2014 electric motorcycles.
Now Polaris will take over Brammo's electric motorcycle business, the question arises: What will the new owner do with it?
Thus far, Brammo hasn't announced 2015 models of either the Empulse or Enertia.
Brammo and Zero motorcycles are the only manufacturers of electric motorcycles in significant numbers. Recently, Zero has added major updates to its bikes to increase their range and performance.
There was only one small update to the Empulse last year. That means people who follow this market are anxious to see how Brammo responds to Zero's higher range, along with the addition of ABS for 2015.
Polaris will move the manufacturing of electric motorcycles to its Spriit Lake, IA facility where it already manufacturers select Indian motorcycles and Victory motorcycles.
Polaris has said it plans to show an electric Victory motorcycle by the summer of 2015.
The company intends to get into the market before Harley Davidson, and was inspired to do so by the Harley-Davidson Livewire tour.
A big question is whether Polaris is committed to selling electric vehicles with a sufficient level of dealer training.
Not only do dealers need to learn how to sell the vehicles differently than those with internal combustion engines, but their maintenance departments need to learn new safety and diagnostic protocols.
2011 Brammo Enertia
A robust Polaris dealer network that is knowledgeable about servicing electric vehicles would offer the company a distinct advantage over Zero.
The acquisition may also offer an opportune time for them to get rid of the gearbox that is unnecessary on electric vehicles.
Even Brammo’s headline racer, Eric Bostrom, has touted the benefits of not having to use gears while riding.
He writes, "EVs are also extremely easy to ride (you don't have to rely on a manual clutch to get moving), freeing up concentration so I can work more on my technique and less on controlling the mechanics inherent to the machine."
Brammo Empulse R electric motorcycle
Polaris executives have hinted that we will see an electric motorcycle that looks more like a Victory or an Indian rather than the traditional Brammo look.
Thus far, electric motorcycles have been designed largely as commuter bikes, off-road bikes, or sport bikes.
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